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Three o’clock in the afternoon, Monday through Friday always felt like I was belly up at a bar, enjoying a beer with buddies and talking sports.  In a strange twist of events, I no longer have that experience and the truth is, I miss my Cuz’.anthony-gargano

Philadelphia sports fans that have ever turned their radios to 610 WIP or 94.1 WIP know the name, Anthony Gargano.  Using the moniker “Cuz” made Anthony one of the most approachable radio personalities in the Delaware Valley.  The listeners that would call into the afternoon show would greet Anthony with a, “Yo, Ant’,” or “Yoooo, Ant’ny,” or the classic, “Yo, Cuz!”

Anthony Gargano is an all-around good dude.  This is a guy that made my daughter, my little Angel feel like a real angel when he pointed her out during a live broadcast at Primo Hoagies, “Is that your daughter?  She’s beautiful; she’s a little angel.”  My daughter still mentions that a year later.

Back in the day, I would leave Holy Family University between classes and hang out at the McDonald’s on Street Road in Bensalem.  Sometimes, if I was really lucky, I’d catch Anthony outside and join him for a quick smoke.  He talks Philadelphia sports not only because it was his job to talk about the Eagles, Phillies, Flyers and 76’ers, he talks about them because regardless if there is a mic in front of his mouth, the guy embodies Philadelphia sports.

He is the Cuz’ because he speaks about Philadelphia sports the same way my family speaks about our teams.  I may have never broken bread at the Gargano household but it sure feels like I did.

Wherever or whatever Gargano does next, I look to what he did everyday as a sports radio host and the reason, the penultimate explanation of why Gargano holds such an affinity in the lives of so many Philadelphians is that he appreciated his opportunity to talk about something for which he held an inexplicable amount of passion.

On behalf of those like myself, the dream chasers that are inspired by the passion of others, thank you Cuz’.  Though you’ve been lauded many times before, know that from the ranks of the everyday Joe, we thank you for your passion and for remaining a proud face and champion for Philadelphia and its sports.

Comedian Chris Smith, based out of Bucks County, PA is preparing for an Australian Comedy Tour entitled the “American Larrikin” Comedy Tour.  Interested in supporting the tour?  www.gofundme.com/k38s9k

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I have to come out and admit something that has eaten away at me for many years.  I hope my friends and family will still accept me for who I am.  I know that a large part of society finds my orientation gross and appalling.  If they had their druthers, I would be wiped from this Earth along with all the others like me.  God, I can’t believe I’m making this declaration through my blog: I…..am………a Liberal!

There, I said it.  I know many of you already knew it but I feared coming out and being scrutinized for something that I cannot control.  Many will argue that being liberal is a choice, but I contend that I was born this way.  I have to admit that I feel like a new person admitting it publicly.  I mean, when I came out to my wife, she took it so well.  Of course, she admitted her Liberalism a long time ago.

Some hinted to me that they knew I was liberal because of the way I speak.  Others  know because of the people I associate with and how those people talk and act.  I just want to be accepted and to have my opinions heard and not have my character assassinated because I live a lifestyle that does not always reflect the core values that so many of my “normal” Conservative friends expect from me.  I know they want me to join their flock, to become like them, to be part of their congregation: a group of “sheeple” that know best.

According to Dictionary.com, a website that I am pretty sure is devoid of any Liberal or Conservative view points defines Conservative and Liberal as:

CONSERVATIVE: [kuh n-sur-vuh-ti] (adj):  disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.

LIBERAL:  [lib-er-uh l] (adj): favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs.

Which one do I choose, which one do I choose?  Decisions, decisions.

I’ll go with Liberal!  I know it breaks the hearts of those minions toiling away in their bastions of self-righteousness, but if we take the definitions as they stand, liberal just sounds, I don’t know, progressive?

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PROGRESS vs. KEEPING IT THE SAME

If you, God or no-God (your choice) forbid, received a diagnosis of having cancer, would you rather see a conservative doctor or a liberal doctor?  (I’m not talking political affiliation.)  I literally mean would you see a doctor that started practicing medicine thirty years ago and believes the technology and medical knowledge of 1984 would best serve your health and recovery?  Would you feel comfortable with a doctor that pressed on your stomach and said, “Mrs. Jones, I don’t feel anything; you’re good to go!”  Of course not!  If you are such a contrarian that you would say yes, then I truly hope you never develop cancer.

I would prefer to see the doctor that runs a gauntlet of tests, calls upon the science and technology used to treat cancer so that I have a fighting chance.  I would rather associate with the doctor that is willing to accept new ideas in order to best take care of her patients.  I know, just a crazy liberal viewpoint prattling on and on about progress.

Imagine your favorite restaurant for a minute.  Let’s say they have the most amazing Shrimp Scampi.  Upon ordering your meal, the waiter notifies you that the new management is taking a conservative approach to how many shrimp they put into your most favorite meal.  Placed methodically upon a mound of pasta are four sad shrimp that look more like krill than say, a prawn.  Perfect if you have baleen teeth, but unfortunately, you’re a person, not a whale.

Now, imagine that same restaurant fell under liberal ownership.  The same waiter notifies you that instead of diminishing the size of the shrimp and the amount of the shrimp, they’ve opted to go with six prawns heaped onto a generous portion of pasta.  The price stays the same but we all know that means less profit for the restaurant, but at these prices and these portions, you are more likely to return to said restaurant and spend MORE of your money.  I guess that would never work, huh?  I mean, imagine if stores sold their products in bulk.  They would surely go out of business.  Except for Sam’s Club, BJ’s, Costco, PriceMart and City Club.

WHY LIBERAL?

I get it!  You work your ass for your money and it bothers you that some welfare leech is living off  your hard-earned money.  Even though I am liberal, I get it and it does piss me off that there are those that abuse the system.  Don’t you just hate it when people who survive on welfare and food stamps find ways to get over on the government?  Imagine if honest, tax paying corporations tried to do that.  Oh, wait.

I have a degree in English so please forgive my rudimentary attempt at math.  However, let’s use GE as an example in comparison to 740,000 welfare recipients IF they cleared $50,000 a year from the federal government.  Yes, I said $50,000 and 740,000 welfare recipients.  Find me one,  singular person that clears $50,000 a year from welfare and I’ll be in line with the rest of those people Conservatives despise.  Regardless, GE, if it paid taxes the way the rest of us had to pay taxes, would have owed the United States government $37 BILLION dollars in 2012.  I know, free market economy, capitalism, et cetera, et cetera.

I’m liberal because there is something wrong when individuals want to scream “liberal media” but get bent out of shape when good old-fashioned numbers do not lie.  Yes, the media lies.  Yes, the media propagates stories and covers sensational information.  As a matter of fact, I’ve got boxes full of plastic sheeting and duct tape if anyone wants them.  The box is about twelve years old but it is free to a good home.

 If you’ve ever sat in front of Fox NEWS and felt like the God’s honest truth was streaming right at you, you are more than likely acting upon your own self-preservation and adhering to a belief system that aligns with your own provincial views.  You cannot slam Liberals for NOT buying into Fox NEWS when Conservatives choose to discredit all other news sources because THEY have an agenda.

Moreover, I find it comical when people Tweet their outrage over the Liberal media’s coverage of events like Ferguson and then use completely unrelated stories to counter the Ferguson issue in order to highlight how the media only cares about “black” issues and issues when “black” people are murdered.  This is where I come right out and say, “Shut up!”  In NYC, there have been 225 murders  this year.  In Philadelphia, 191.  How many of those stories do you know about?  If any of those incidents were perpetrated by cops shooting unarmed people, we would all know about it.  Don’t argue hypocrisy when the “Not In My Backyard” mentality is alive and well in this country.

If you are more outraged by the Ray Rice incident and how it was handled, Liberal or Conservative, than you are about the REASONS and CONDITIONS behind why so many people are murdered in our inner cities each year, then you are no different from the very news outlets you love to bitch about.

Perhaps I am Liberal because I feel real Patriotism; not the feigned Patriotism that Conservatives put on display when someone even mentions the topic of the 2nd Amendment.  I am Patriotic when I see high school students and educators walking out of their schools in Colorado because a Conservative school boards pushed their agenda to eliminate curriculum that mentions civil disobedience because it is dangerous to America. READ THE FULL STORY:

Civil Disobedience is why America exists.  Any dip shit can shoot someone; George Zimmerman, Darren Wilson, Ali Muhammad Brown and Adam Lanza proved that point well enough.

For the record, I believe the 2nd Amendment has its place in America.  I do not think the government has the right, nor should it ever try to repeal the second amendment.  However, if you are going to hold fast on a right established by the government nearly two and one half centuries ago, admit that there is a fundamental difference between a musket and a semi automatic rifle.  If you are not willing to accept that logical assertion then you don’t actually defend the 2nd Amendment, you defend your right to broaden its intention.Militia man

Sorry, Conservatives, but the real Patriots are those that stand up for their rights and use the Amendment that comes before the beloved 2nd Amendment.  Young men and women that stand up and say, “We have a right to know the history of the very country that we will one day inherit, warts and all.”

I am a Liberal because I have seen what stagnation does to a society.  I know what the same old tired arguments sounds like because I have heard it over and over again.  I am far from Politically Correct and I will nod my head in the direction of fiscal accountability, fixing the problems that leave this country beholden to those that hold our debt and collect interest from war and social programs that have become bastardized and twisted memories of sound programs.

I believe in America because I am raising three daughters that will one day have to navigate through the muck that OUR government has created.  If we heeded the brilliant wisdom of George Washington, the idea of a party system would have stalled and died before it ever became the exclusionary platforms that Americans cling to in order to become part of an accepting group.  However, since the lines in the sand look like they are here to stay, I will stand on the side of Liberalism because I still believe in progress.  Mock Obama’s slogan, “Yes, We Can” as much as you want, but in the end, I would rather look my children in the eyes and say, “Yes, We Can,” instead of folding my arms and saying, “No, We Won’t.”

By all means, please hurl insults and tell me that I am talking directly out of my arse.  This article is in response to people trying to discount my opinions and views because they “sound” liberal.  You will never, regardless whether you string together my 5,000 tweets and every Facebook post I’ve ever written, understand or know me until you attempt to understand and know me.  I never said I was right; I leave that to the fool hardy and the indignant.  All I did was defend my position.

Follow me on Twitter: @ChrisSmith215

 

After my latest article, a person whom I considered to be a good friend did exactly what I asked anyone that disagreed with my article to do; he reached out.  He spoke honestly and candidly and for that, he stayed as true to the character that I always expected from him.  However, a small fractal of light blinded me as I read his assertion about my character as he postulated about his own.

Friendship is such an ethereal concept.  We have friends and then we have true friends.  The concept of a true friend is really based on the individual.  What are you willing to accept and what are you not willing to accept?  Is an acquaintance a friend?  Is a coworker a friend or just someone who by design you are around a great deal more than most and make the best of that situation?  Does a friend have to take every phone call you make, respond immediately to every text or email you send?

A friend, in my estimation, is someone you can lean on when you need support of any kind.  A friend may give you a hard time about a decision, but they do so out of true concern for you.  If you lean too long, they can kick your legs out from under you and say, “it’s time to stand on your own two feet.”

A friend does not always agree with you.  They should have the kind of relationship based on trust and admiration that is open to scrutiny and can say the hard thing to you even if it hurts both involved parties.  Being a friend means hurting when your friend hurts.

However, friends can sometimes say things out of anger or disappointment.  They can use your past to vilify, scold, dismantle or condemn.  When an individual feels compelled to use what they have done for you to indemnify you, then they are acting purely out of anger or your assessment of that person is actually much different from what you suspected.

When I went through a bitter divorce, fell into a life draining depression and attempted suicide, my friends, even the truest of my friends, disappeared.  They did not do it out of spite, they did it out of fear.  I understood and I still understand.  Those I worked with that were essentially “work” friends, knew about my situation and while I respected a great many of them, it turns out that being there for me comes with a price.

I spoke out about something that is unequivocally the truth.  However, my words, according to this person threatened the livelihoods of many people who, according to him, supported my academic and comedic aspirations.  I have a commitment to these individuals because, as he made abundantly clear, “were there for me during my divorce and my suicide attempt.”

Yeah, true friend indeed.

I don’t remember his face, standing over me screaming the way I remember my Mom doing just that.  When I was hospitalized, I don’t remember a phone call or a visit.  I do remember my chops busted for being the loose cannon and crazy.  A true friend, for the record, can hold onto memories but never feels compelled to hurt a person through an experience that is as raw today as it was the day I tried to end my life.

Friends forgive and I forgive him.  I am sure he does not think there’s anything to forgive, but for someone who cared so much for me, his response was in reaction to how much he cares for himself.  Self preservation; the essence of survival.

Friendship is, after all, an ethereal concept.  We want it to be rich and fruitful, a metaphorical tree from which we can sustain.  We envision it as something so deeply rooted in the ground that no matter the force of the storm, it will stand long after the winds have dissipated.  Friendship is the bedrock for our existence, an immovable force that provides the support for all things that we do and become in our lives.

I would accept the argument that I acted selfishly, but the person reporting on who I am uses a veiled argument that is righteous for one group, and ignorant towards another.

Regardless, this was never about friendship, this was about business.

 

 

After my first two weeks as a freshman English teacher (I was brand new to teaching and my students were brand new to high school), I witnessed a disturbing trend by my students.  Homework, tests, quizzes and projects, as it turned out, were gay.  Any time my students wanted to share their complete disdain for any type of work, they would immediately proclaim or mumble, “this is gay.”

I took offense to the statement and not because I had a special place in my heart for gay rights.  I have a special place in my heart for the rights of people and when young kids on the precipice of adulthood used gay as the term to describe something displeasing or unfavorable, the visceral reaction I had to students surprised me.  “Find another way of saying you don’t like something, people!  If you want to be viewed as adults, it is time to start acting like educated adults.”

After a few weeks of working on the abolition of “that’s gay” in my classroom, the turning point came once I put it into perspective.  I only had a few black students but in one particular class, I used race to put “that’s gay” into perspective.  I remember asking my students, “would you say, “that’s black,” if you didn’t like something?”  Immediately the lone black student in my class turned his head quickly and violently around the room to see if anyone would agree to that particular usage.  All of the students avoided eye contact and either looked down at their desks or as if they had never heard the question.

Thankfully or coincidentally, the quick lesson worked and when students would use the term in class, they would often correct themselves and even ask for a pardon from the universe as they would say, “sorry, I meant to say…”

Ignorant speech and views starts when we are all pretty ignorant to the world around us.  Kids, especially, are rooting through this world trying to understand how life works and where and how they fit in.  Hell, a great many adults are still searching for themselves; I know I am.  All of this is anecdotal  and germane to one incredible experience that came to full fruition this past Saturday.

A friend of mine a few months back came to me, after finding out that I was ordained and could perform wedding ceremonies, and asked if I would officiate her wedding.  Her fiancee is a wonderful person too.  Together, they exude the kind of love and passion for each other that so many people pine for in their lives.  The way they look at each other and how in a crowded room, you can see them searching for each other in order to just share a smile.  They are sentimental, emotional, dedicated people that love each other in a profoundly inspiring way.  Oh, right, I almost forgot, they’re gay.10624776_879633068251_279711591266471520_n

Regretfully, when I was twelve years old, my friends and I would prank call a gay bar where I lived.  We would ask, “Is Phil there?  Phil MyButtUp!”  Things that, even though I was only twelve, still bother me that I ever existed in a place where that seemed comical.  Luckily, I had the kind of relationship with my Mom where I would tell her about all of the things I did: good, bad, sensitive, insensitive, and even outright ignorant.

In one of her many sage like moments, my Mom turned to me and asked, “would you want to be something where people would be ignorant towards you?  Would you choose to be something where others would make fun of you, act differently towards you, or discriminate you?”  She looked at me and immediately I understood her point.  “No, I wouldn’t,” I replied. “Then think about what you think is funny and then really think if it is funny or you’re trying to be funny at someone else’s expense.”  Damn, I thought.  Moms always have a way of putting things into perspective.

This past Saturday I had the opportunity to act as the officiant in my first wedding ever.  I did not lament over what I was going to say, though I did fret over the words because I wanted my friends, Sarah and Katie, to have a ceremony that they would never forget.  Standing before her friends and family, I felt that lump begin to swell in my throat.  I was far from nervous; I was moved.

10685485_10100698714348029_3080044461057064068_nWhen Katie and Sarah finally made their way to where I was standing, I could see their eyes filled with palpable passion, love, and of course, tears.  They could finally do the one thing that this country, a country that prides itself on individual freedoms and liberties, fought so long and hard to keep from happening.  Passion beat policy and over a hundred people bore witness to the power of love and resilience.  As a heterosexual male, I do not and cannot imagine what it would be like to be told I could not love someone because others had an issue with whom I directed my affection and adoration.

We all play a part in how effective love and kindness can be in this world.  Ultimately, there’s a lesson to be learned in how we treat those that do not follow the scripts that we follow in life.  Homophobia is not bred through one particular sect of thought.  Its genesis is in ignorance begetting ignorance.  It manifests when the company a person keeps continues to drive home a point of intolerance and the inability to differentiate between their life and someone else’s life.  When people decide that love provides not only a safe place for individuals to lay their hearts but a place where people can simply be themselves, we take steps in battling the provincial thoughts of those that appear to need more love in their life.

I will never change anyone’s views by saying what I believe.  I will change minds by living out my views.  Sarah and Katie asked me to be part of a moment that, as I said to those in attendance, could not be justified by any words that I spoke that day.  We needed only look at Sarah and Katie together and to witness the truth in what we believe.  While I often wish the world would stop long enough to admire each moment as unique and authentic, it may play a little part in what made Saturday so magical.  Outside of the Autumn oasis that Sarah and Katie created for their family and friends, was a world waiting to remind us of the long road so many people must travel.

However, tucked away in the Germantown section of Philadelphia are fifty five acres of endless memories.  We need only return there in our thoughts to have all of our senses brought back to life and to remind us of what perfect looks and feels like.  I will never forget my two friends; surrounded by bales of hay, loving family and friends, and an infinite supply of hope and victory to fuel us for a lifetime.  I may never change someone’s mind by what I’ve said or written, but if I lead through my experiences in life, September 20th, 2014 marks the day when I witnessed hope evolve into reality!

Far from “Just” a Pizza Shop

Posted: September 18, 2014 in Uncategorized
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Gabriel’s II in Washington Crossing, PA (215) 493-2226

We’ve all heard the term “comfort food.”  It’s that one meal or snack that while we eat it, we say, “I don’t care about carbs, fat, calories, or anything else.”  That is, unless carrots are your comfort food and I am not quite sure whether I want to make your acquaintance.  That does not necessarily mean that the food has to be “bad” for you, it is simply the food that makes you feel better.  This is where Gabriel’s II in Washington Crossing, PA comes in.  However, it’s not just the food that provides comfort, it is the restaurant as a whole.

Understand that I’m a nostalgic kind of guy.  My buddies give me a hard time because I admit to crying during certain romantic comedies, have dabbled in some poetry here and there and the truth is, I’m somewhat of a softie.  However, being somewhat of a softie is what allowed me to connect with my students and what allows me to be a committed Dad to my daughters.  In my grand respect for nostalgia, Gabriel’s harkens back to my days of growing up in Bridgeport, PA and the fond memories I had of visiting a very similar pizza place called Franzone’s.

First, the shop is intimate.  Hosting only a few stools and a counter for patrons to eat a slice or enjoy a sandwich, Gabriel’s gives off a very, “I feel like I’ve been here before” type of vibe.  That is just the physical layout that gives me that feeling.  Like any great corporation, sports team, body shop, garage, cleaners or coffee house, the staff is what gives any group its character.  The owner, Gabriel (Chris) Mascio, is to Gabriel’s what Ted Danson was to the character Sam Malone in Cheers.  It is his place, he clearly runs it, but he’s far from typical.

“Hello, my dear,” Chris will say smiling as a silver haired patron glides in.  “Yo, Boss, how ya’ been” is the greeting for the oily mechanic that only moments ago slid out from under a car he was working on so he could grab a slice of two.  The difference between a salutation and a warm greeting is the smile a person has on their face when they say it.  Like his restaurant and food, Mascio is truly authentic.10561537_823013741044126_3465975541440444386_n

The guys that work for Gabriel’s are a cast of characters in their own right.  They feed off the boss’ positivity, greet customers like their family, and even when it gets busy in the shop, people are still laughing and still smiling.  The family owned pizza shop still exists and never does a customer have to settle.

You know exactly what I mean.

You go into a place and the food is, “ehhhhhh” but everyone that works there is great.  Or, the food is fantastic but the service leaves a great deal to be desired.  It seems to be the American way; settle for what we give you because we just don’t care.  However, that’s why Gabriel’s is in a class of its own.

Leaning over an employee making a pizza, Mascio watches and says, “not enough cheese, babe.”  Not ENOUGH cheese?  In an age where cutting corners and costs are the norm, Chris’ sentiment echoes louder than he could ever understand.  It turns out that there are still places that care about quality.

Are you asking yourself, “what about the food?”  I could rattle off a dozen adjectives to describe the unrelenting options but each palate is different.  The beautiful part of Gabriel’s is you may walk in with a hankering for a cheese steak and walk out with twenty wings and a slice to go.  I just want something small becomes ordering a full meal.  If you’re Italian, it’s the kind of place you’d have to do a great deal of lying about to your Mom or your Grandmother.  “Oh, Gabriel’s, no worries, Nona, the eggplant lasagna is definitely not as good as yours.”  Meanwhile, you just lied to your poor, old Mom or Nona.

Whether you remember Cheers or not is irrelevant.  If you like the idea of ordering fantastic food at a place that not only wants your business but truly values it, Gabriel’s II is a wonderfully unique restaurant that caters to the individual, not the masses.  Business may ultimately be about making money, but Mascio and his staff understand that it’s about making meals that people love!

Do I really need a website?  Yes, the pure and simple answer is “Yes.”  It’s not that I don’t want to build a site, it’s not that I don’t want to interact with people, it’s that I don’t have the patience or the knowledge to make a website that is easy to use.  I feel like a derelict but I will push through.

Comedian Chris Smith provides teaser for DVD release….